How I Saved This Week



Spring is one of my favorite seasons. It's been so exciting to see the snow disappear and to see the green grass again! The daffodils and irises have come up and we noticed that the garlic I planted in the garden last fall has started to grow.



It's also time to start getting ready for planting. I have some peppers growing in an old produce container that I saved last year.

The May/June issue of Eating Well magazine came in the mail this week. I was able to get this subscription for free by using points I earned from Recyclebank.

I bought a copy of The Maker's Diet for $.50 from a local second hand store (similar to Goodwill).

I bought Mini Easter notebooks and 12-packs of Easter pencils that were on clearance at Walmart for $.49 each. I will put them in the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes that we do this year.

I cooked a chicken and made broth in the crockpot with the whole chicken that I got on sale for $.88/lb.

We borrowed two movies and several books from the library.

How did you save this week?

How We Saved on a Family Vacation



At the end of March, our family spent a week in St. Augustine, Florida. I never dreamed that a big vacation like this would be possible for us and I was hesitant to agree to the trip, knowing how much money we would be spending. After many weeks of discussion, my husband convinced me that this was an amazing opportunity for our family that we should take advantage of while we had the chance.

One of the reasons I was able to agree to this trip was because I knew that we were in a good financial situation:
  • We were able to pay cash.
  • We have no debt, except for our mortgage.
  • Our emergency fund is well funded and can cover several months of expenses, if needed.

After we decided to go on the trip, my husband searched the internet to find the best deal on a place to stay. He found a nice 2-bedroom condo in a community with free access to the beach, a pool, a patio area for barbecuing, a tennis court and the kids' favorite - shuffle board. Our condo wasn't fancy, but we had more than the necessities, including wi-fi and a washer and dryer, for less than the cost of a hotel room here in our area.



It was a little surprising to discover that almost nothing was free, but considering the part of Florida that we were in, we should have expected that. Here at home, you can visit the Portland Lighthouse and many forts for free, so it was disappointing that there was a charge to visit the lighthouse and fort, and the cost was very high. The agency that we rented the condo from did give us a free adult ticket to one attraction of our choice, so we did use that along with a AAA discount to visit one attraction.


Instead of paying to visit the attractions, we spent a lot of time at the beach and we used the pool. We used the patio area and enjoyed a barbecue one night with family who had gone on the trip with us.



My husband and I spent an afternoon walking around beautiful downtown St. Augustine.



Our family went on a mini site-seeing tour of our own and saw some beautiful views.

Here are some of the other ways were were able to save on our vacation:
  • We drove instead of flying. 
  • We didn't stop on the way to stay in a hotel. (I would not recommend this. Sometimes it is better to spend the extra money. 😃)
  • We brought snacks and drinks with us so that we didn't have to buy them at convenience stores along the way.
  • We heard that meat was expensive, so we brought some with us.
  • I made homemade instant oatmeal packets for breakfasts.
  • We were told that the Publix there was the best place to get groceries, so I checked the website for sales and checked blogs for coupon matchups before we left.
  • We ate most of our meals at the condo.
  • We were pleasantly surprised to find coupon booklets for local restaurants in the condo. We used a coupon to buy dessert at a frozen yogurt bar. 
We did splurge on a trip to Disney while we were there. We were only about 2 hours from Orlando, so we spent a day at Magic Kingdom. I'll admit we spent a lot of money to do this, but it was something we really wanted to do with the kids and we were prepared for the cost.

I am so glad that our family was able to share this experience. I absolutely loved St. Augustine and didn't want to leave at the end of the week! It was a trip that I will remember forever and, hopefully, will be able to experience again someday.

Meal Plan Monday - April 17




I spent a total of $88.25 on groceries for this week.


Hannaford had a great sale on produce last week. I bought the big bags of onions and carrots that were on sale, even though I wasn't planning on buying them for this week.




We are very excited that school is on break this week. Since I will have more time in the morning, I'll be making more homemade breakfasts and I've also added our lunch menu.


Breakfast

Cereal
Banana Blueberry Flax Smoothies
Blueberry Pancakes
Breakfast Sandwiches
Homemade Instant Oatmeal with frozen blueberries
Homemade granola with bananas

Lunch

Tuna salad with veggies (lettuce, baby spinach, cucumbers)
Chicken sandwiches with veggies, apple slices
Chicken Fried Rice, salad
Yogurt, Triscuits, carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus
Whole Wheat Apple Oatmeal Muffins, hard boiled eggs, carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus
Dinner leftovers x2

Dinner

Beef Stew
Mexican Chopped Tuna Salad
Spaghetti and meatballs with Heart Healthy Pasta Sauce, green beans, homemade garlic bread
Vegetable Barley Soup, cornbread muffins
Chicken Cornbread Casserole
Meatloaf Veggie Muffins, seasoned brown rice, green beans
Leftover night and/or salad


Get other meal plan ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Meal Plan Monday - April 10



We spent last week recovering from our trip and taking care of something that came up unexpectedly, but I'm glad to be back to posting here this week.

I spent $74.43 on groceries for this week.




I price matched the cereal from the Dollar General ad and paid just $1.53 per box. I also price matched the Mrs. Dash seasoning for $2 and the butter for $3. I thought the butter was a good deal until I saw an even better deal in this week's Hannaford flyer. I think I will be buying more butter this week, since it is fairly expensive here. I found some discounted Italian bread that I will use to make garlic bread.


I also bought 4 loaves of bread at the discount bread store for $.50 each.


Here's my meal plan for this week:

Breakfast

Cereal
Homemade granola
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets with blueberries

Dinner

Baked Ravioli, broccoli
Zippy Shepherd's Pie, garlic bread
Chicken Noodle Soup
Beef Stew, Yogurt Biscuits
Sweet Potato Chili, leftover yogurt biscuits
Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole, garlic bread, peas